This is week ten of the legislative session and “cross over” is well underway with several bills moving on to the other chamber. It’s a light week, but important bills are scheduled.
Public hearings are the best chance to communicate with committee members and share your opinion. The Legislative Office Building (LOB) is located immediately behind the State House at 33 N. State Street in Concord. For senate bills, sign the white sheet on a side table just inside the door to indicate your support or opposition for a bill, and if you intend to speak. The protocol is a little different in the House. The public may sign the blue sheet near the room entrance to indicate support or opposition to any bill; fill out a pink card if you intend to speak. If possible, provide written copies for each member plus the committee secretary. If you are unable to attend hearings email the committee, or better yet, call them individually and indicate if you are a constituent. Exec sessions may happen anytime after the public hearing closes so prompt action is encouraged.
Last couple weeks were major ones for the full NH House and Senate as they finalized bills originating in their chambers. Consequently there is just one bill before the House this week that has an important school choice impact. This is when all 400 Representatives have the opportunity to vote YEA (to support the committee’s recommendation) or NAY (to oppose the recommendation). Please contact your legislators before the session day with brief, polite messages and mention you are a constituent. Look for more in the coming few weeks.
As always, contact information is at the end of the article.
TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 2017: SENATE EDUCATION, ROOM 103 LOB
Public hearings for the following bills
9:00 a.m. HB 210, relative to a code of ethics for certified educational personnel
9:20 a.m. HB 216, relative to educational assignments for pupils who have been suspended
9:40 a.m. HB 221, relative to the national guard scholarship fund and the New Hampshire national guard education assistance act
10:00 a.m. HB 226, relative to documenting the improvement of non-proficient readers
10:20 a.m. **HB 122, relative to withdrawal from a cooperative school district
position — OPPOSE
information — Although well intended, this bill does not resolve the problems smaller districts have when trying to dissolve cooperative agreements with larger neighboring districts. It also does not address the financial aspects of withdrawal, a substantive issue involved in these cases. This bill is premature and instead the study committee formed by HB 1303 (2016) should be allowed to continue their work and issue a recommendation to solve this imbalance of power. This position is in consultation with members of the School District Governance Association of NH and members of various local school boards.
THURSDAY, MARCH 23, 2017: HOUSE SESSION, Rep Hall at 10:00am
full NH House will vote on the following bills; they are on the Regular Calendar because the committee recommendations were more divided; these bills will have more debate on the floor.
***HB 647, establishing education freedom savings accounts for children with disabilities
committee recommendation — Inexpedient to Legislate, vote 22-4 (House Finance)
position — NAY on ITL, SUPPORT the bill
information — Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) are funds that children receive to a designated account that are used for specified educational purposes. This particular ESA is limited to students with a disability – children with IEPs or 504 plans. While ESAs are new to New Hampshire, they are not new to other states. Currently five states offer ESA programs and each is unique with respect to the approved uses, eligibility qualifications, administration, accountability mechanisms, and funding sources. The two established programs in Arizona and Florida have been immensely successful. They put an expanded range of educational services and options within reach, particularly for low-income families who face the greatest challenges financing their children’s educational needs. ESAs have withstood constitutional challenges and enrollment is optional. Financial experts testified that the state and districts would have significant savings – a net positive impact on school districts of $59.7 million – if NH implements an ESA program. Read more in Education Savings Accounts: The Next Evolution of School Choice. For more info on the evidence of school choice programs, read A Win-Win Solution by EdChoice.
The Senate and House Education Committee members with contact information is available here. Brief phone calls are most effective, but personalized emails directed to an individual are also helpful; mention if you are a constituent. Personal stories and messages are helpful.
To contact the Senate Education Committee, email or call them directly. Members of senate committees do not have a shared email address.
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To find your Representatives, go to “Who’s My Legislator?” Brief and polite phone calls and emails are effective, especially if you mention you are a constituent. Mass emails are far less effective, but the email for all Reps is firstname.lastname@example.org.